Business experts have known for a while that working from home fosters employee autonomy and saves costs. First and foremost, it’s a protective measure to preserve employee and customer health. But from a growth perspective, it’s a way we’re all adapting to the digital age and it forces leaders to transform their businesses into digital ones.
Managed IT Tips for Remote Work Security
While our physical health is better protected at home, there are new threats to our safety. Many workers have already experienced security breaches while working away from the office—when employees are outside the company’s security perimeter, they lack the business-level online security that would normally prevent intrusion and theft from hackers.
Your security is not a lost cause. We encourage the following best practices to keep your employees’ business data and personal information from home.
1. Strengthen user accounts
No matter what software your teams use for work, client service, and internal communication, keeping accounts secure has to happen on an individual level.
We’ve talked about password security before, but we can’t stop reiterating how important it is to keep passwords varied and to update them every few months. For stronger passwords, use at least 12 characters that contain special characters and numbers. And yes, you do need to make unique passwords for each of your accounts. This minimizes the damage you might take from hackers who manage to crack one of your passwords.
If you have a hard time remembering complex passwords, practice makes perfect. Never stay logged in. Logging out of every account at the end of the day isn’t just critical for your security—it’s a way to solidify your password in your mind and your muscle memory.
Another absolute necessity for account security is multi-factor authentication (MFA). This procedure adds a layer of security with another step in your identity verification, like sending a one-time verification code to your smartphone or asking for a fingerprint scan.
2. Regularly update your software patches
If we all unanimously hate one thing, it’s the “Update” notification. We’re all guilty of postponing critical software updates (clicking “Update Later” ad infinitum) because we don’t want to disrupt our day-to-day work just to watch a loading bar crawl at turtle speed. The uncertainty of how long updates take can be excruciating.
But it’s essential for protecting your computers and mobile device from the newest breeds of cyberthreats. If you get lots of these update notifications, it probably means your software providers are trying their best to stay on top of new types of malware and hacks.
So help them out. It’s for your own good.
Patch management software is also an option. This kind of software saves you manual work—it tracks newly available patches on your employees’ devices and automatically distributes the newest updates on a company-wide scale.
3. Secure home Wi-Fi routers
Your Wi-Fi router is like a traffic cop. It controls what goes in and out of your home network and directs internet connection where it needs to go in your home. Right now, its job is more crucial than ever, since it’s protecting all your employees’ business data as well.
Since Wi-Fi routers are designed for home use, they aren’t as carefully secured as their commercial counterparts. Ensure your employees change their router passwords early on—and that they contact their telecommunications provider to install the latest firmware updates.
4. Use a VPN
In a nutshell, Virtual Private Networks (VPN) were invented to bypass restrictions that certain location-specific websites place on geographic access. However, with the technology they use to mask your location, they’re an indispensable tool for remote work. With a reliable VPN, you can create safe connections between your employees’ devices and their networks by encrypting (concealing from hackers) their internet traffic. It’s one solid way to keep your employees’ data away from hackers and protecting their online privacy.
5. Watch out for Scams
Be careful where you click. That means taking extra precautions when navigating emails, websites, and even messages from your colleagues. Skepticism is a good state of mind to have right now, with hackers posing as people you know and soliciting your information in very convincing ways.
A good rule of thumb is to never give away personal, financial, or business information via email without confirming the legitimacy of the request over the phone with a person you know and trust.
Figuring out how to safely work from home is a global task. It asks us to work together to share best practices and solutions for online security at a time when all kinds of businesses are vulnerable.
If you need expert guidance on implementing any of the above best practices, you can talk to us about the best ways to stay secure from home.